Hero Pose - Virasana

How to Do Hero Pose - Virasana
Hero Pose - Virasana. Ann Pizer

Type of pose: Seated

Benefits: Stretches quads and ankles, improves posture

One of the things that yoga students often struggle with is getting comfortable sitting cross-legged. It's especially difficult for people who are very tight in the area around the hips. Students often feel that sitting cross-legged is so quintessentially "yoga" that it must crucial to the practice, especially if you plan to meditate.

And while it is good to work on opening those tight muscles, all this is a very roundabout way of saying that you absolutely do not have to be able to sit cross-legged to do yoga or even to meditate. Because, virasana,

Though it is a massive stretch for the quads, sitting in virasana is actually much easier and more comfortable for most people than sitting cross-legged, especially if you place a block under your butt. If you plan to sit still for more than a few minutes, as you would for a meditation session, give it a try. Virasana is also more conducive to keeping your shoulders over your hips, which helps the spine align so that your back doesn't ache while you are sitting.

Do be very careful of the knees in this pose. If you have any knee pain, try raising the hips to decrease the pressure on your knees by sitting on a block or two. If that doesn't help, it's ok to skip this pose.

Instructions:

1.

Start in an upright kneeling position with your hips over your knees.

2. Keep the knees together as you separate your feet to either side until they are about 18 inches apart. This will vary somewhat depending on your size, but basically you are spreading the feet apart to make room for your butt to come down between them.

3. Lower your butt down to the floor between your feet. You may need to manually move your calf muscles out of the way to make thus happen.

4. Make sure that you are not sitting on the feet, but rather between them with the tops of your feet on the floor.

5. Your feet should point straight back, turning neither inward nor outward.

6. Slide you shoulders away from your ears. Rest your hands in your lap.

Beginners' Tips:

1. Take padding under your seat if necessary. Use yoga blocks or a folded blanket, depending on how high you need to be.

2. Turning the feet under can cause foot cramps. Here's some advice on what to do about them. 

Advanced Tips:

1. If you feel very comfortable seated, move on to reclined hero pose - supta virasana.

2. Lower to your elbows first and make sure that your knees are still ok before you try to lie all the way back.

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